CDWDS to USCCB… Come in, USCCB… Come in….

A letter of His Eminence Francis Card. Arinze to His Excellency Bishop Skylstad.  My emphasis:

2 May 2006

The Most Reverend William Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prot. n. 499/06/L

Your Excellency,

With reference to the conversation between yourself, the Vice President and General Secretary of the Conference of Bishops of which you are President, together with me and other Superiors and Officials when you kindly visited our Congregation on 27 April 2006, I wish to recall the following:

The Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is the latest document of the Holy See which guides translations from the original-language liturgical texts into the various modern languages in the Latin Church. Both this Congregation and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow its directives. This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is therefore not competent to grant the recognitio for translations that do not conform to the directives of Liturgiam authenticam. If, however, there are difficulties regarding the translation of a particular part of a text, then this Congregation is always open to dialogue in view of some mutually agreeable solution, still keeping in mind, however, that Liturgiam authenticam remains the guiding norm.  (Fr. Z: Yah, like… if you can’t get this done in a reasonable period of time, we will do it for you?)

The attention of your Bishops’ Conference was also recalled to the fact that Liturgiam authenticam was issued at the directive of the Holy Father at the time, Pope John Paul II, to guide new translations as well as the revision of all translations done in the last forty years, to bring them into greater fidelity to the original-language official liturgical texts. For this reason it is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years, and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes. Where there are good and strong reasons for a change, as has been determined by this Dicastery in regard to the entire translation of the Missale Romanum as well as other important texts, then the revised text should make the needed changes. The attitudes of Bishops and Priests will certainly influence the acceptance of the texts by the lay faithful as well.

Requesting Your Excellency to share these reflections with the Bishops of your Conference I assure you of the continued collaboration of this Congregation and express my religious esteem,

Devotedly yours in Christ,

+Francis Card. Arinze

Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Paul says:

    Thanks for posting this, Fr. Z. It is very heartening to read, although I don’t know if it will have any effect on the foot-dragging at the USCCB. Is it absolutely necessary that the USCCB sign-off on the new translation? Practically speaking, what would it take for them just to be completely bypassed?

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    I suspect if they either fail to pass a translation this summer, or pass one that the Vatican will be unable to give it’s approval to, a translation will be imposed from above, as is the right of the Congregation to do.

  3. CaesarMagnus says:

    I have a very serious question. Is a bishops conference really competent to make these types of decisions? I know they should be, but the past 40 years have seemed to prove that they are not. How many bishops would actually go through the texts to make sure they were correct? Something is just placed in front of them and they vote. Seems like an odd process to me: voting on something you really are just told is supposed to be good.
    I pray that a good translation would be imposed on us. But then many bishops
    would cry that collegiatlity has been broken … well, their idea of collegiality.
    My other question is, why were all the shoddy translations approved by Rome in
    the first place?

  4. You might be thinking about “competence” in slightly the wrong way. Most of the time we use “competent” in the sense of “being up to the task”. In this case, however, “competent” has a juridical/legal meaning of “having the legal authority” to do something.

    There is no question that the conference (who have banded together to use ICEL) have the juridical authority to create and approve translations and submit them to the Holy See. Whether or not they really can get it done by working together is another question.

  5. I wonder whether Bishop Skylstad might be expected to share Cardinal Arinze’s letter with the U.S. bishops at or before their June USCCB meeting to discuss the new translation. Surely this would serve to inform them of the current status and applicability of Liturgiam authenticam, the text of which the bishops will no doubt have studied individually (along with the proposed translation itself) in preparation for the meeting.

  6. Andrew says:

    Can any bishops whose Latin skills are minimal or none actualy “study” these texts?

  7. clayton says:

    It’s ironic that the USCCB vote on the translation will be happening in Los Angeles. Cardinal Mahony has been outspoken in support of sticking with the 1970 translation.

  8. Thomas says:

    “it is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years…”

    And just what was their excuse 40 years ago for making far more radical changes than what are called for now? Unbelievable.

  9. Everyone: The bishops who are curious about what the prayers really say, can always check out… always check… hmmm…. Where can they look again?

  10. clayton says:

    Fr. Z,

    What is your source for the letter from Arinze? Several people have asked me if Diogenes made this up…

Comments are closed.